A couple band questions


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01-01-2011, 08:15 PM
So me and some friends started a band. We've got a drummer, I play guitar and one of my other friends play bass.

However, one problem we're having is vocals. When singing, we have a mic plugged into my pedal board which goes through the amp that I'm also playing on. Obviously this isn't the greatest method for hooking up a mic or whatever. What would we need in order for the singer to have his own "voice amplication" thing? Are there amps designed specifically for singing?

Another question, we're all relatively new at this. How do we go about adjusting our tone and levels on our amps and whatnot to make everything mesh well together? Cause I feel like when we play I can't really hear him playing the bass at all over the guitar and drums. Would we need a mixer or something to plug all the instruments into to adjust the sound levels? If all the instruments were plugged into a mixer, would we still be able to play out of our amps? Like, do you plug the instruments into the mixer, and then from the mixer attach individual cables to the amps, or what? Or are mixers only for recording purposes?

What do the sound guys at venues use to adjust the volume levels and stuff? I really have no clue how this stuff works.

Sorry if these are stupid questions.

01-01-2011, 08:25 PM
Here's my twopence. You want a PA system to amplify vocals. As far as I know, there's no such thing as a vocal amp. You get buskers amps that do guitar and vocals, but I don't think there's a vocal amp.

Finding levels and mix is a case of listening and tweaking. The way I do it is to have the drummer play something and raise the bass volume until it's nicely balanced. Then the same for guitar and then for vocals. Sound guys suck. I've never known a good one. Ever. Whenever the instruments are put in to a backline, you get a huge backwash of sound and you can't hear the rest of the band. Avoid.

01-01-2011, 08:26 PM
If you're just starting out its trial and error bro. The singer needs a PA, as far as all the levels go you have to equalize to each other, listen and if the bass is too low turn it up then adjust the guitar.

As far as tone goes, that's up to you, play with the settings. No one can give you any tips to find a sound but yourself.

01-01-2011, 08:27 PM
1st question: Get a P.A. system for vocals.

2. Tell your bassist to turn up if you can't hear him. A mixer could help, but you would need a P.A. System for it.

3. They use a mixer and a P.A. Systen

Phil Starr
01-02-2011, 05:57 AM
I'll answer your direct questions as simply as I can but I've written a series of articles for UG in the columns which I'll give you.

There are two things you need to amplify vocals properly; an amp which is for the singer and the band to hear, which is called a monitor, and the PA which makes the sound the audience hears.

For the rehearsal room either will do the job since they are both designed to amplify vocals cleanly but a monitor is usually simpler and will be what the singer hears on stage eventually so it pays to get used to this early, as singing through an amp is a very strange experience at first. The best thing to go for is a little wedge monitor with a built in amp and a microphone input or two. You need a decent mic as well.

Hearing yourself when you are all together is trickier than you think. The worst possible advice is to turn up the people you can't hear. You'll end up with everyone on 11 and still not hear. The second worst advice is to use trial and error. You wouldn't build a car this way, would you?

There are a couple of secrets you need to know. The first is that guitar amps don't radiate sound all around them, they send out sound like a car headlamp. Most of the sound goes out in a cone straight ahead and only a little spills out sideways. The audience hears better than the band because a long way out all the beams combine. You can adjust what you hear by moving out of your own amps beam and closer to the amp you aren't hearing most of the time. You can try pointing amps at your ears' or the ears of the person who can't hear.

The second tip is to turn the loudest thing down rather than the quietest things up. Since your drummer doesn't have a volume control he'll just have to agree not to give it too much welly. Adjust the bass to match the drums and everyone else to that. The loudest thing should be the vocals.


01-02-2011, 09:55 AM
You, Phil, are the live sound master. :-)

Just to re-enforce one critical point... you know those amplifiers you have? The ones with the volume knob? That volume knob.... it turns in *both* directions!

If the guitarist is drowning something else out, turn it DOWN! And yes, drums are loud, but a good drummer will be able to play softer.

Another option for your rehearsal space would be a keyboard amp. They do really well for vocals, and usually have an XLR input.


01-02-2011, 01:03 PM
Great advice everyone. I'll take a look through those articles Phil.

Thanks a lot.